Tennessee Performs First Execution In 9 Years After U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Intervene | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Performs First Execution In 9 Years After U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Intervene

Aug 9, 2018

This story has been updated.

Tennessee has executed its first death row inmate in nearly a decade, the state Department of Correction announced this evening, after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Thursday not to intervene in the case of 59-year-old Billy Ray Irick.

Irick was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. after his sentence was carried out at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville "in accordance with the laws of the state of Tennessee."  Correction officials gave no further details.

Earlier this week, Irick's attorneys had asked the nation’s highest court to delay his execution pending a challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection protocol. The Supreme Court denied the motion in a brief statement.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed. In her dissent, she accuses the Court of turning a “blind eye” to the proven likelihood that the state of Tennessee will inflict several minutes of torturous pain on Irick.

Irick was convicted of raping and killing a seven-year-old girl in the mid 1980s. His advocates insist he did so during a psychotic episode and that he still suffers from mental illness.

The Tennessee Supreme Court also declined to intervene in his case, as did Gov. Bill Haslam. This will be Tennessee’s first execution during his tenure and only the sixth since the state reinstituted the death penalty in 1976.